There are a few more things to be decided before the season kicks off
By JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN
Some questions have been answered through two weeks of Edmonton Eskimo training camp, but many still remain with the roster cut-down deadline of Saturday night approaching.
Here are the top five questions for the final week of camp:
- Who will win the right guard battle?
It's not a glamour job, but it's a critical position on this club with a revamped offensive line.
It appears non-import Glen Carson and import Raleigh Roundtree are the only combatants.
The Esks can afford to play an American on the line and Roundtree should only improve after last weekend's first-ever CFL game.
The former NFLer learned plenty about the speed and differences of the Canadian game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in pre-season action Saturday in Regina.
It will be surprising to see either player cut before Friday's final pre-season game.
- Will anybody step forward and take a firm hold on the No. 2 quarterback job?
Undisputed starter Ricky Ray will likely play at least the entire first half Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium, which means Jason Johnson and Khari Jones won't see very much more live action.
Jones blew a chance to solidify the No. 2 job with a terrible outing in Regina, while Johnson's stock jumped.
Likely tied on the depth chart for No. 2 right now, this will be an interesting call for head coach Danny Maciocia.
- What will happen to Steve Jyles?
Although he has barely 12 minutes of professional football under his belt, the young quarterback is loaded with talent and is bound to stick with the Eskimos.
But he's not going to start the year in the No. 2 role behind Ricky Ray, which leads to an interesting situation.
If Maciocia decides to keep both Johnson and Jones on the active roster, Jyles will likely have to take one of the spots on the newly created four-man taxi squad that takes the roster from 42 to 46 players.
(Only 42 players can actually dress and play. The other four get a full wage and can be activated up to a few hours before game time if one of the members on the 42-man crew is scratched.)
The Esks could also try to ship Jyles to the practice roster, which doesn't feature full pay or come with the benefit of travelling on the road with the team.
But being shipped to the practice roster likely involves clearing waivers - and another team would probably claim him.
- Who emerges to fill Steven Marsh's shoes?
The Esks have tried five players - Shannon Garrett, Brent Hafford, Gerald Dixon, James Whitley and Reggie Myles - at the SAM-linebacker spot at camp, but the coaches haven't appointed the job to anyone.
Whitley appeared to be the No. 1 candidate late last week, but he's inconsistent - as he proved in Regina, missing a tackle on quarterback Darian Durant.
- When will defensive leader A.J. Gass report?
Dealing with the death of his mother in the United States, Gass still hasn't stepped on the practice field this spring.
If he doesn't this week, untested CFL sophomore Quincy Stewart will likely get the starting middle linebacker job to start the regular season against a very tough Calgary club on June 17.
On the positive side for the Esks, he led the team in tackles in Regina on Saturday.
But nobody on this roster can replace Gass - talent- or leadership-wise.